Thursday, September 16, 2010

"The Number of the Beast" - Djali Zwan (Cover of Iron Maiden)

I'm not opposed to metal or hard rock. I think that if you are open to it you'll find that even if you hate a specific genre, there's always a few gems to be found within it, (yes... even top 40 I’ll admit). I wouldn't call myself a fan of Iron Maiden, but I do like a few of their songs. One song particularly I've always liked is"Number of the Beast", not just because of the rhythm but also because of the symbolism and story behind it. And let's be honest - anything taboo or spooky is always fucking fascinating.  
The song is inspired by a nightmare bandleader, Steve Harris, had after watching the movie Damien: Omen II and also by the storyline of the poem "Tam O' Shanter". The ancient Scottish poem tells the story of a drunk man who sees a strange vision on his way home from the bar. The opening verse of the original Iron Maiden song features scripture from The Book of Revelation:

"Woe to you O earth and sea for the Devil sends the beast with wrath because he knows the time is short" in Chapter 12, Verse 12; "Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast for it is a human number/its number is six hundred and sixty six," in Chapter 13, Verse 18.

Maiden was widely criticized by religious groups as devil worshipers following the release of this song. There were many rumors and weird coincidences associated with the recording of the song and album "Number of the Beast". Apparently the band manager crashed his car while they were recording this song and the total amount for his repairs was $666. The song reached 18 on the UK Charts, (6+6+6 = 18). Rumors circulated that while the band was in studio recording  the album there were creepy occurrences like strange noises, lights turning off by themselves etc. 

The short lived super group Djali Zwan covered "The Number of the Beast" and their version was featured on the soundtrack to the movie "Spun". Djali Zwan was formed by Smashing Pumpkins lead singer, Billy Corgan, and featured members from Slint, Tortoise, Chavez and A Perfect Circle. This song marked the first time Matt Sweeney stepped up to sing for Djali Zwan. Sweeney and his whiny drawl were the perfect choice for this mellowed out version of the legendary song. I love when artists take a fast-paced, heavy song and slow it down.  It gives the song a whole new identity.  In this version you are much more aware of the lyrics and the story the song is telling. 

I left alone, my mind was blank, I needed time to think

To get the memories from my mind
What did I see? Can I believe that what I saw
That night was real and not just fantasy?

Just what I saw in my old dreams
Were they reflections of my warped mind staring back at me
'Cause in my dreams, it's always there
The evil face that twists my mind and brings me to despair

Night was black, was no use holding back
'Cause I just had to see, was someone watching me?
In the mist, dark figures move and twist
Was all this for real or just some kind of Hell?

6 6 6, the number of the beast
Hell and fire was spawned to be released
Torches blazed and sacred chants were praised
As they start to cry, hands held to the sky
In the night, the fires are burning bright
The ritual has begun, Satan's work is done
6 6 6, the number of the beast
Sacrifice is going on tonight
This can't go on, I must inform the law
Can this still be real, or just some crazy dream?
But I feel drawn towards the chanting hordes
Seem to mesmerize, can't avoid their eyes
6 6 6, the number of the beast
6 6 6, the one for you and me

I'm coming back, I will return
And I'll possess your body, and I'll make you burn
I have the fire, I have the force
I have the power to make my evil take its course

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